Administrative Titles in Nubia in the Middle Kingdom

By Leprohon, Ronald J. | The Journal of the American Oriental Society, July-September 1993 | Go to article overview

Administrative Titles in Nubia in the Middle Kingdom


Leprohon, Ronald J., The Journal of the American Oriental Society


THIS BOOK IS A FINAL PUBLICATION of the Epigraphic Expedition to Sudanese Nubia conducted by the German Academy of Sciences, Berlin, under the directorship of Professor F. Hintze. The work began in 1961 with a survey season, followed by three epigraphic campaigns between 1962 and 1963 in the region around the Second Cataract, between Faras West (PM VII, 124), south of Ballana and Qustul, and Sabu, north of the Third Cataract (PM VII, 174). The campaigns were of great importance since they resulted in the discovery of many new graffiti, as well as provided numerous corrections to previously published ones, notably the RIS and RIK texts.

Preliminary reports were published in Kush 11 (1963): 93-95; 12 (1964): 40-42; and 13 (1965): 13-16. However, these preliminary reports only discussed a few texts and simply listed the number of inscriptions copied, without giving much detail, and hence gave little indication of the scope of the work of Professor Hintze's team. These final results are now all the more welcome since they come in the wake of a number of new publications on ancient Nubia, notably K. Zibelius-Chen's Die agyptische Expansion nach Nubien: Eine Darlegung der Grundfaktoren (Wiesbaden, 1988) and B. Gratien's Prosopographie des nubiens et des egyptiens en Nubie avant le Nouvel Empire (CRIPEL, supplement no. 3, 1991). More material from the Nubian campaigns is also being worked on for future publications, e.g., the seal impressions from Mirgissa currently being studied by B. Gratien.(1)

Following an introduction that presents the campaigns and their logistics and a discussion of the date and the geographical distribution of the texts, the material is presented topographically, running north to south. Each text is given a number and supplied with a date, measurements, previous publication(s) when appropriate, and a present location (e.g., the National Museum in Khartoum) when the text has been removed from its original location. The text is given in a hieroglyphic hand (though not a facsimile, as the reader is referred to the plates), translated, and annotated. For the latter, an updating of the bibliographical apparatus might have been useful.

All this new material affords an opportunity to pull together the administrative titles found in Middle Kingdom Nubia,(2) leading to an investigation of the extent of the central administration's activities in the area during that period.

The titles in the catalogue(3) will be presented in the following order: the staff from the Inner and Outer Palace along with the various seal-bearers; the major ministries; the officers of the local administration; scribal titles and "middlemen"; the armed forces; mining and quarrying titles; and the priesthoods. Regarding the catalogue, it should be pointed out that some titles that would seem obvious to some readers have not been included in the catalogue. Among those are the ones relating to the royal family-- e.g., mwt-nsw, "queen,"(4) or s-nsw, "prince"(5)--and also the innumerable honorific epithets that shore up an official's curriculum vitae, e.g., the ubiquitous rh nsw, "royal acquaintance." The former are not administratively significant while the latter add nothing to our knowledge of the administrative workings of the "Nubian affairs" of the foreign office.

It must also be pointed out that, unlike some collections of Nubian material, the present catalogue will not contain the titles met at Elephantine,(6) or from the amethyst quarries of the Wadi el Hudi. While it is true that a number of examples indicate officials who left graffiti, or even stelae, at Elephantine either on their way to or back from Nubia,(7) a great many other examples of graffiti left at Elephantine show that such men either simply lived in the Elephantine region(8) or else left graffiti there during business missions without necessarily going on into Nubia.(9) Other officials who left graffiti both at Elephantine and in the Wadi el Hudi(10) cannot also necessarily be said to have been sent to Nubia as part of the "Nubian bureau" of foreign affairs. …

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